The Nine Touchstones of Goddess Spirituality: Walk in Love and Beauty

May 11th, 2018 | By | Category: Articles, Feminist Craft

My first exposure to the idea of walking in beauty, or of doing things in a “beautiful way,” was through my reading of Dine authors in an anthropology class on Native peoples of the American Southwest. The idea of the Beauty Way or something being “finished in beauty” is often appropriated by White folks in the New Age and Pagan movements – as is the case with aspects of spirituality from many indigenous peoples – and I have been skeptical about using this language myself. I’ve had to think about what this second of Carol Christ’s touchstones meant to me outside of an appropriative context. (For the record, I don’t think that Christ is appropriating the language here – it’s just that this language evokes some of the appropriation of Dine culture and spirituality I’ve seen throughout the Goddess Spirituality movement over the last 20-odd years.)

What does it mean to “walk in love and beauty”? More importantly, why should this be a touchstone of Goddess Spirituality?

On its face, the idea that we should walk in love and beauty can seem to echo much of the empty platitudes about “positive vibes only” that plague spirituality in our modern age. I firmly believe that this is toxic – that focusing only on positivity to the extent that we refuse to engage with what is ugly or unpleasant or unjust is a dereliction of our duty to the planet and to each other. When we dig deeper, however, we see that the exhortation to walk in love and beauty is not a denial that negative, unjust, and ugly things exist – instead, it is a call to recognize the beauty and love around us, to seek to experience those things fully, and to endeavor to create love and beauty around us.

I’m the first to admit that it’s not always easy to see the love and the beauty around us. As I write this, in April 2018, the world is a harsh place – but then, when have we ever been able to say that the world is not a harsh place? In the midst of a chaotic political climate at home, of war and human rights crises abroad, of environmental destruction and widespread social injustice, it can be easy to focus only on the ugly and the violent in this world. Indeed, it is easy to be overwhelmed by the violence, injustice, and horror that seems around every corner. And I in no way advocate turning our faces from these realities. If we are to do the work of justice, which I believe is at the heart of Feminist Witchcraft, we must look these things in the face.

However, we cannot let the ugly, the violent, and unjust consume us to the point that we cannot see the love and beauty in the world, to the point that we are unwilling to create love and beauty in the world. The Goddess calls us to see the love and beauty in the world even in the midst of chaos and heartbreak, because it is these things that make life worth living. As I wrote in my discussion of the first Touchstone, Nurture Life, one of the things that drew me to Feminist Witchcraft was its inherently life-affirming nature. Coming from a Christian background that stressed how life is a vale of tears and that the goal should be to shuffle off this earthly existence, finding a spirituality that affirmed the sacredness in all life, in all its messy complexities and heartbreaking paradoxes, was like finally being able to draw a breath.

Life is worth living. When I feel like I’m about to be consumed by the sadness of the world, by the seeming hopelessness of the fight for a better world, I remember that even in the darkest of times, people have loved and celebrated. They have made art and love and babies, in the bleakest of places and the longest of nights. They have created beauty. They have known love, in the most desperate of times.

How can I do any less?

To refuse to see the love and the beauty in the world is to deny Goddess and to deny our own sacredness. When we walk in beauty, even when it’s challenging to do so – perhaps especially when it is challenging to do so, then we are doing Her work.

We walk in love and beauty because we are love and beauty. We walk in love and beauty because that is what sustains us when we must go out among those things that are not made of love and beauty. We walk in love and beauty, and we attempt to leave love and beauty in our wake in places where it might be hard to find.

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